Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mid-Week Bonus: Excerpt from KISSES AND LIES

For all of you millions of folks who've read Harsh Prey, my debut novel, and are waiting impatiently for the second book in the series, Kisses and Lies, here's a little freebie for you. One of the ways in which KAL departs from the first book is that, for the first 2/3 or so of the book, alternating chapters are narrated in 3rd person from the point of view of another character. These chapters are essentially flashbacks that give background for the case on which Harry and Dee are working. What you'll be reading is an excerpt from one of those chapters. In this scene, the main character, Happy Hillman, is delivering food to an apartment in New York City and things don't go well. I hope you enjoy it!

He checked the address on the bag. It was unfamiliar to him; he’d never delivered there, but he knew the neighborhood—up five blocks and over three from the deli—to be pretty sketchy. He had barely escaped getting mugged there only the previous Friday when someone turned a corner at just the right time and scared a strung out, knife-wielding creep away. So he had his head on a swivel as he approached the building to which he was delivering. But the block was quite crowded this day with folks out enjoying their day off. He’d been so intent on the people around him that he only noticed as he was at the foot of the building’s front steps that ominous clouds had gathered. The first few drops, big and thick, crashed hard onto his head just as he was buzzed into the building. The apartment was 513. The good news was that the building had an elevator. The bad news was the door to it was covered by two strips of police tape x-ed across the opening. He tried not to think about what that meant as he mounted the first flight of stairs.
At the top of the fifth flight, he looked right, finding 501. On the left, he found 530. He figured the floor made a complete square and the math favored going right. He was right about the square part but way off on the math. After he turned left, the numbered rooms ended halfway down the hall at 510. There were lots of unmarked doors going nearly to the far back left corner of the building before they started having numbers again. As a result, he was two-thirds of the way back around to the stairwell before he found the door he sought.
The response to his knock was little more than a rustle at first. It sounded like someone had attempted to quietly shuffle to the door, but did it poorly. As he waited, he noted an acrid odor, something like nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, and some sort of chemical all mixed together. After maybe 30 seconds, he heard someone call out through the door that he or she—he couldn't tell whichwould be just a minute. It felt more like five, but eventually the door opened just a crack, enough for him to see an almost freakishly large bloodshot eyeball staring out at him. This struck him odd since the door was equipped with a peephole, but he let it pass.
“Betelbaum’s Deli,” he said, holding up the bag.
Before he could react, the door opened an inch or two more and a long, spindly arm shot out, grabbing the bag from his hand. He didn’t even have time to yelp a protest before the bag disappeared inside the room and the door slammed shut. Stunned, he stood slack-jawed for a few seconds. Then he tried the knob. Locked. So he pounded on the door, shouting.
“Hey, you forgot to pay your bill! Hello? Anybody in there?”
He felt a little silly after saying the last thing, since, unless he’d climbed out the window and gone down the fire escape or he was Spiderman, the sandwich napper was probably inside. He waited a few seconds before raising his hand to knock again. Before he did so, though, he heard an odd click from inside the room. His eyes grew wide and the words he was going to shout caught in his throat. Was that…?
The next second, the top half of the door exploded. The bullet pounded into his left shoulder like Superman’s fist, driving him against the wall behind him so hard it knocked the air from his lungs. For a split second, he felt no pain, but that was almost instantaneously replaced by a searing heat radiating out from his wound. Half expecting to see his shoulder ablaze, he looked down; at the sight of his white Betelbaum’s Deli shirt quickly growing crimson, his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped, unconscious, onto the grimy floor.  

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